A Year of Unprecedented Opt-Outs: Unions, Finances, and a Grassroots Movement

A Year of Unprecedented Opt-Outs: Unions, Finances, and a Grassroots Movement

A Year of Unprecedented Opt-Outs: Unions, Finances, and a Grassroots Movement

This past year was a period of extraordinary shifts in the organized labor movement across the United States, echoing a growing trend of union opt-outs. The numbers for 2023 are nothing less than staggering – more than 35,000 individuals chose to leave their government employee unions, representing a 17 percent increase in opt-outs compared to 2022. These people are leaving their unions because of our aggressive outreach campaign. Our outreach campaigns have consisted of direct mail, digital ads, emails, and door to door canvassing. As we have seen from national labor statistics, we are making an impact on union membership.

In fact, the 35,000 who left their unions directly because of Opt Out Today are just the ones for whom we can take credit. We know more people leave their unions indirectly thanks to our outreach efforts.

Take a moment to digest what 35,000 people leaving their unions means. This exodus translated into a financial impact of approximately $91,200 lost to unions every single day of the year. Eight states in particular — California, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York — saw more than 1,000 workers make the choice to step away from their unions. California, often characterized as a union stronghold, witnessed over 13,000 departures — an average of 35 people per day making a life-changing decision about their workplace representation and financial commitments.

The west coast’s historic numbers were bolstered by contributions from the Freedom Foundation’s successful national expansion initiative. New York, for example, saw a near doubling (98 percent) of opt-outs compared to the previous year. Illinois’ numbers were equally noteworthy, with close to 3,000 public employees stepping away from their unions. More than half of those Illinois residents (1,900 people) came from the state’s in-home care provider population.

The numbers achieved through the national expansion prove that when people learn about their rights not to be union members, they’re eager to exercise them.

This trend isn’t just a reflection of changing attitudes toward traditional labor representation; it’s a testament to the effectiveness of grassroots efforts and targeted outreach. In 2023, the Freedom Foundation’s new ambassador program played a pivotal role in forging strong relationships with government workers. People across the country saw that we’re not just listening and responding to their needs, but actively empowering them to help us make a difference on the ground.

As we stand at the threshold of 2024, the momentum from last year’s achievements positions us for even greater impact. Our focus now shifts to harnessing this energy, continuing our outreach and expanding our efforts to support those seeking alternatives to union membership.

National Director
Michael Ciccio serves as the National Director for the Freedom Foundation. Michael has over a decade of experience organizing activists and professionals, as well as coaching and advising on topics such as public speaking, organizing tactics, and media strategy. After graduating from the University of New Hampshire in 2008, Michael jumped right into the New Hampshire political sphere, working for various campaigns and within the New Hampshire State Senate. Most recently he served as the director of staff training at Americans for Prosperity, one of the nation’s premier grassroots organizations. During his 7 years at the organization, he focused on the continued expansion of grassroots capabilities.